The Mafeking Oak

March 15th, 2014, 7pm

It was 13°C with clouds and visibility OK. There was moderate breeze.

Yet another lovely sunny day in Kent!

This rather plain looking tree is at the top of my road and I thought it deserved a photo being taken of it with the beautiful blue sky behind and with daffodils and primroses round its base.

It’s actually a memorial, of sorts, and I do love the idea of a living memorial, such as an oak tree like this one. In theory at least, such a memorial could still be around many generations later, serving as a reminder to future villagers of an important past event, as this one does.

Having said that though, there is some question mark over what exactly this tree is commemorating! It’s referred to now (in Borough Council reports at least) as The Mafeking Oak, which I had understood was to mark what became known as The Relief of Mafeking, an event that took place in 1900 after a 217-day siege of the town of Mafeking in the Second Boer War. This was where it could be said that Colonel Baden Powell made his name, the same man who later founded the Scouting movement that has since spread world-wide. He even had cadets in Mafeking! The Relief made the headlines in Britain and was celebrated with great enthusiasm, hence the re-naming of this tree as The Mafeking Oak.

I say re-naming because the tree (or rather, a tree… see below!) was actually planted in June 1897 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and was originally called The Jubilee Oak. Such trees were planted in many villages throughout Britain to mark that very special occasion. But it would appear that by the middle of 1900 when the news from Mafeking was received, the Jubilee was no longer deemed worthy of remembrance, so the change of title occurred.

Except that the original tree only survived 14 years before it had to be replaced. This happened to coincide with the coronation of King George V (in June 1911), who had become King in 1910 on the death of his father, Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward VII. And so this new tree was named The Coronation Oak, and it appears that it was known as this until at least the 1970s.

Why the official name reverted back to The Mafeking Oak I do not know, but there you have it. I suppose it means that this is actually a three-in-one memorial, commemorating a Jubilee, a military victory and a Coronation. That’s efficiency for you!!

Lia, David Wade and So-Shan said thanks.

Share this moment

Adrian Tribe

A follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and father, a Kentish Man (not a Man of Kent), a commuter to London

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook